Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Redeeming Cultures

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 5

"God is calling his servants to be catalysts that enable personal, ecclesial, societal, and cultural transformation. Compelled by the love of Jesus, in obedience to his command to love our neighbor, the body of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit can become his agent of transformation, to the glory of God the Father. . . .

"Scope of the Gospel: As Creator, God is Lord of all, and, therefore, his redemptive concern is comprehensive—seeking to heal and restore 'all things' by means of Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross (Gen. 1:31a; Rom. 8:18-23; Col. 1:19-20). The church’s calling is to witness to the kingdom of God in its fullness (Matt. 4:23; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:18-21). To be faithful to the gospel the ministry of the body of Christ must be holistic—encompassing the whole person—spiritual, physical, and social, and all human relationships—with God, with others, and with the environment (Gen. 1:26-28). Anything less than concern for all spheres of life is to misrepresent the all-encompassing Lordship of Jesus Christ over the world."
[Transform World, "Transformational Covenant" [emphasis added])

Transform World is the premier global mission entity forging ahead with the dominionist doctrines of the new age of global mission. The above quote, taken from their "Transformational Covenant" document, indicates the sweeping scope of the evangelical "social gospel" for this century. The full document is worth a read. Nothing less than the overhaul of governments, economies, and social and cultural systems is intended. Be aware that the language is couched in nebulous terminology which gives leeway to the alternative eschatologies of Dominion.

The term "cultural mandate," referenced in yesterday's post, is linked to the new meanings for the terms "transformation" and "reformation." Below is a pertinent summary from Al Dager's book The World Christian Movement (Sword, 2001) chapter 17, "Dominion: The Cultural Mandate":

In the
Reader for Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, C. Peter Wagner, mentored by the late John Wimber, and so-called "expert" on church growth, calls social and political action "the cultural mandate" of the Gospel:

The cultural mandate, which some refer to as Christian social responsibility goes as far back as the Garden of Eden. After God created Adam and Eve, He said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing....

Both the cultural mandate and the evangelistic mandate are essential parts of biblical mission, in my opinion. Neither is optional. There is a growing consensus on this point in Evangelical circles.

This was not true as early as twenty-two years ago when the Berlin World 'Congress on Evangelism was held in 1966.... One of the first Evangelicals to stress the cultural mandate in a public forum was Horace Fenton of the Latin America Mission at the Wheaton Congress on the Church's Worldwide Mission, also held in 1966. Following that, the social consciousness generated by the social upheavals of the 1960's brought the cultural mandate to prominence until it was given a relatively high profile on the platform of the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne in 1974.

is in dominion over the earth, always has been, and always will be. But Wagner makes the assumption that God's instruction to Adam and Eve has not been accomplished because Christians are not in dominion over the earth. This argument is presented by dominionists of every stripe, from Manifested Sons of God adherents to Christian Reconstructionists. (See my book, Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion, for an in-depth analysis of 'Kingdom Now" or "dominion theology.")

The "cultural mandate," then, is the need for Christians to take dominion over the earth by means of social and political action. And, according to Wagner, it was inspired by the "social upheavals of the 1960's."

Dager is correct when he notes that this teaching is embraced by Dominionists of all stripes. It is packaged for various groups of adherents to dominionist theology and marketed accordingly.

In an important article describing the full scope of this "cultural mandate," Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries, describes this as "The Global Transformation of Redeeming Cultures." First detailing Ed Silvoso's marketplace transformation agenda, Oppenheimer then describes similar dominionist beliefs of Chuck Colson:

Not everyone is involved in the Latter Rain belief of putting the culture under the authority of the church. Chuck Colson holds to a modified teaching of Reconstructionism and modern day Dominionism to reform the culture, by taking the culture back:

Redeeming the culture is the never ending mission of the church."
(Chuck Colson, Breakpoint, Jan.2, 05, KLHT).

"I was deepening my understanding of what we call the cultural commission, the command to the Church to take dominion and bring righteousness to our culture.
(Chuck Colson, God's Inseparable Commissions, Prison Fellowship, 01/05/2005)

"Today-some 30 years into my ministry--I have come to believe passionately that all Christians need to take their faith out of the pews and into the trenches. We've got to be faithful to the cultural commission to have dominion, to work for Christian values to arrest our worldview slide.”
(Chuck Colson, Prison Ministry and Worldview: A Match Made in Heaven, Prison Fellowship, 08/29/2004)

One of Colson’s ministries' objective is to institute Christian laws into our government to shape America into a godly nation. But you can’t find these ideas of culture, or society in the Bible. In fact, if one looks at how the early church handled their relationship with Rome it is nothing like what is being promoted today.

Mike Oppenheimer then describes the "Redeeming Cultures" movement in the missionary world:

One of the new strategies to evangelize the nations, and crush Satan under your feet (referring to Rom. 16:20), is called Redeeming Cultures. It goes by a number of different titles -- First Nations -- cultural evangelism -- cultural identification -- indigenous people movement -- cultural redemption, etc.

The belief is that in every culture God has left treasures and worthy traditions within the indigenous cultures to be used. We are told that redeeming the cultures reestablishes people’s identity of who they are as nations and who God created them to be.

Terry Leblanc, referring to David Garrett from Scripture and Songs, said it this way:

“God is now calling forth from among the indigenous communities of the world that good deposit which He has made in them of their cultures, their languages, their musical expressions and all that sort of thing ... as an expression of praise and worship unto Himself.” (Word to the World - host Danny Lehmann, KLHT, 2001)

To say God created these cultures, influenced them, or deposited anything in them is the same as saying that these other religions had truth from God and worshipped Him (or her, or it) correctly.

The cultural redemption movement began mainly through Don Richardson's books “The Peace Child” and “Eternity in Their Hearts,” who proposed using redemptive analogies that are already found in cultures. Some of the ideas he presented were valid, some were not. Certainly there is advantage to indigenous people carrying the Gospel to their own people, but there is a disadvantage when one tries to make a connection to them by their own religion that is clearly not there in the first place. And instead of giving them the straightforward Gospel it becomes a blend of their religion and the Bible to appease both parties. In the end, the Christian Gospel will be covered up with cultural traditions. The reason is because you cannot make a mixture like this have the Gospel uncorrupted.

Is it appropriate to bring to people Jesus Christ through their own culture, and then leave them to worship God in their own culture's way? Did the apostles do this? The answer is No, but that is what is taking place today. [emphasis added, edited for blog use]

A broad overview of this "Redeeming Cultures" concept, and the new teachings and activities inherent in its attempt to override the traditional Gospel, can be found in the new book written by Mike Oppenheimer and Sandy Simpson called Idolatry In Their Hearts. This book is a must read!

Make no mistake about it: the "cultural mandate" to "redeem cultures" (or whatever other terminology is used) is a re-work of the old "Social Gospel" movement of the 20th Century. The banner carriers back in that era were the liberal mainline churches. The banner carriers for our time are the leaders from all stripes and shades of Dominionism, waving various versions of "take back the culture" or "redeem the culture" causes. Learning from the past, today's neoevangelical leaders have maintained all the trappings of "evangelism" so that it appears (at least superficially) as if conversion from sin is the focus. All of this has collectively been lumped under the new term "evangelization," which according to Al Dager, in The World Christian Movement, means:

"In the churches today there are popular voices that are using Christian terms to mask an agenda of global, ecumenical dimensions. The goal is to enlist the support of the majority of those who call themselves Christians in order to advance that agenda under the name of "world evangelization" - a term originally coined by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization in 1974." [emphasis added]

Dr. Martin Erdmann, in his important book describing the 20th Century's early dominionist efforts, Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches' Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf & Stock, 2005), succinctly summed up the original "Social Gospel" movement with words that have eerie parallels to the "Redeeming Cultures" movement:

"The [Social Creed of 1932] closed with an appeal for a new social order in a new age of faith.

"[It] saw, in the union of Churches, the outward expressions of a collectivist Protestantism. Many followers in the social-gospel movement called fervently for the realisation of the kingdom of God. They were convinced that a unified front of Protestant Churches would be necessary, even essential, to build this kingdom, as defined by Walter Rauschenbusch and his successors. . . .

"Thus the new emphasis on propagating the principles of the Social Creed was again designed to attain the kingdom of God on earth rather than to reach lost souls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." (pp. 152-4) [emphases added]

The Truth:

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:19)